Culinary Heritage: Recipes for a Traditional Maryland Thanksgiving

By Waxter Intern

Preservation Maryland is thankful to be part of a wonderful Maryland community committed to protecting and promoting our shared heritage – not least of which is our culinary traditions. Enjoy our tastiest post of the year. We utilized several resources for this year’s array of classic Maryland Thanksgiving recipes, including; A Taste of History with Joyce White, Old Line Plate, and others.

White potato by Joyce White, A Taste of History with Joyce White.

Eastern Shore White Potato Pie

Potato pies date to at least the seventeenth-century and were frequently made from white or sweet potatoes and contained many ingredients we use in pies today, like sugar, raisins, spices, eggs, and butter. While sweet potato pie is most commonly baked, there is a long tradition of white potato pie in Maryland. Here is a recipe for sweet Eastern Shore White Potato Pie via Joyce White:

Combine potatoes, cream, eggs, and sugar. Beat at a high speed until well blended. Add flavorings and spices. Pour into two 9” prepared pastry shells. Bake 1 hour or until silver knife inserted in center comes out clean.


Huge oyster, St. Mary’s County, 2018.

Oyster Stuffing

Why not add oysters!? At one time, our Chesapeake Bay region produced almost half the world’s oyster supply. Oyster stuffing gives a unique Maryland spin to classic Thanksgiving fare. Here is a Check out this classic recipe from the Andrew’s Family via the blog Chesapeake Inspired.

Let bread dry overnight in oven with light on and door open. If short on time, put bread on oven racks and set to warm for 30 minutes. Finely dice onion and celery stalks. Saute the onion and celery in butter or margarine. Break the bread into small pieces and put into a large bowl. Mix the sauté mixture into the bread. Add a quart of small oysters with the liquid. Add salt and pepper & a little cardamom to taste. Cook as much as you can in the turkey. Warm the rest in a casserole, adding juice from the turkey pan to moisten. The mixture will seem dry at first but just keep mixing. It will soak up the moisture from the oyster liquid and the turkey juices.


One of the most basic types of cornbread is the hoecake, given its name for the way it was cooked on a hoe placed over the fire. Hoecakes were often eaten with soups or stews. Try adding some honey or sugar to this recipe to make it a little sweeter. Foodways historian, Joyce White, offers up this hoecake recipe in an essay about the history of cornbread on her website:

Mix the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water, stir constantly and mix it well and allow the mixture to sit for about ten minutes. Melt the frying fat in the skillet and get it hot, but do not allow it to reach smoking. Two tablespoons of batter can be scooped up to make a hoecake. Form it into a small thin pancake and add to the pan. Fry on each side 203 minutes until firm and lightly brown. Set on paper towels to drain and serve immediately once all the hoecakes have been cooked.

Wassail Cider

Cider and alcoholic cider may have been one of the earliest uses of Maryland’s apples and since at least the eighteenth century they were used for other types of food, too. Here is a recipe for colonial-era wassail cider popular around the holidays, reposted from The Hammond-Harwood House Cook Book:

Combine ingredients and bring to a slow boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Strain and serve hot. 4 cups apple brandy may be added after boiling if desired.

What’s on your Maryland Thanksgiving menu?


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Waxter Intern

A legacy gift from William D. Waxter, III established the Waxter Memorial Internship to help Preservation Maryland support the next generation in historic preservation.

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